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Elementary School

Middle School

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Supportive Classroom Environments

Three Signature Practices

We believe that all learning is a social and emotional process, and we are focused on creating healthy schools in which students develop, achieve, and thrive. This is accomplished through positive relationships between schools, students, and the families we serve. In our classrooms, you will see three signature practices.

Warm Welcome

A teacher opens each class period and learning experience with a welcoming inclusion activity, routine, or ritual that builds community and connects to the work ahead.

Examples may include:

  • Smile and greet each person by name
  • Morning meetings
  • Whole-group greeting activities
  • Interactive “do-now” activity, like peer-to-peer homework help
  • Mood Meter check in

Engaging Practices

Our teachers embed engaging strategies, including brain breaks to anchor thinking and learning, throughout the day. Engaging strategies offer many opportunities that vary in complexity to practice habits and skills that support a positive school culture.. Engagement and learning individually (e.g., “turn-to-your-partner”) and collectively (e.g., “Socratic Seminar” and “Jigsaw”) are supported by intentionally chosen strategies and activities with sequenced steps that suit student’s needs. 

Examples may include:

  • Turn To Your Partner (TTYP) to discuss
  • Think, Ink, Pair, Share (silent time to reflect, followed by time to write, followed by partner discussion, closing with a group share out)
  • Private think time (facilitator wait time)

Optimistic Closure

Educators close each experience in an intentional way. An optimistic closure is not necessarily a “cheery ending,” but rather highlights individual and shared understanding of the importance of the work. It can provide a sense of accomplishment and support forward-thinking. The closing activity may be reflective of the learning, help identify next steps, or make connections to one’s own work.

Examples may include:

  • Something I learned today … (to share at home/after school)
  • I am looking forward to tomorrow because...
  • I am curious about...
  • I helped out today when...
  • Apologies/ Appreciations
  • Checking to make sure students understand the assignment/ homework

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McLain students talk to each other in class